Palm Beach County farmers exceed water quality requirements by more than double

Farmers in the vast Everglades Agricultural Area in western Palm Beach County have again exceeded water quality standards by cutting harmful nutrients in field runoff by 59% – more than double what’s required by law.

Florida’s Everglades Forever Act, initiated in 1994, mandates an annual 25% reduction in phosphorus as compared to a historic baseline period in the 1980s when less regulated, nutrient-rich, runoff was changing the ecology of the Everglades.

The EAA has consistently met or exceeded requirements in all but one year since 1995 with a 26-year average reduction of 55%.

Judy Sanchez, senior director for corporate communications at US Sugar, said the accomplishment in the past year is particularly noteworthy as farmers also struggled with pandemic challenges.

A “water year”, as measured by the South Florida Water Management District, is May 1 through April 30.

“This achievement underscores the fact that over the past 25 years, Florida sugarcane and vegetable farmers growing food in the Everglades Agricultural Area have been reliable partners in the state and federal government’s ongoing efforts to restore South Florida’s ecosystem,” Sanchez said.

Laser-leveled fields that prevent excess runoff, precise fertilizer applications, advanced soil analysis and growing weeds in the right places to trap sediment are tools farmers use to reduce harmful runoff.

Read more at The Palm Beach Post